KASAMA Vol. 11 No. 4 / October-November-December 1997 / Solidarity Philippines Australia Network

Graphic: Detail from poster NEVER AGAIN, ANTaR 1997

The New South Wales Aboriginal Land Council (NSWALC) is using the Internet to marshal opposition to the Howard Government's Native Title Amendment Bill.

People logging on to the NSWALC website at are urged to register their opposition by electronically signing a protest letter.

The letter reads:

Reconciling the Issue over Native Title

Native Title is the term Australia's High Court used to describe the common law rights and interests of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples in land according to their traditions, customs and laws.

These rights are currently being threatened by the decision of the Howard Government to amend the Native Title Act.

The Howard Government's stance on native title is a blatant attack on indigenous culture and on indigenous rights.

Effectively, the Native Title Amendment Bill will deny any rights previously held by the indigenous community by ensuring native title is extinguished.

Native title will exist in name only and will only lead to greater uncertainty for the wider community as the Aboriginal community will be forced to take their native title rights through a lengthy legal process.

Reconciliation between the races begins and ends with recognition of our land rights. Without land our culture cannot survive, and if our culture disappears than all efforts to address the problems of health, education, housing and employment will fail. One cannot trample upon racial dignity and self-esteem and then expect the spiritually bruised to compete on equal terms in an economy with 8.6 per cent unemployment. The Aboriginal person will for ever remain at society's margins and racism will thrive.

The indigenous community is calling for a just and equitable working solution for all concerned. We believe that this can be achieved through negotiated agreements, and native title agreements throughout Australia have proved that this solution is the only solution.

The Prime Minister's solution is a 10-point plan which will achieve (as admitted by the Deputy Prime Minister, Mr Fischer) "buckets of extinguishment" of Aboriginal land rights; a plan that will further the cause of racism and set pastoralist and Aboriginal on a collision course; a plan which represents the final act of dispossession of the Aboriginal people; an unjust and inequitable plan that must be defeated on the floor of Parliament or in the courts.

The suggested amendments by the Howard Government will lead to:

  • the extinguishment of native title
  • the disbanding of the right to negotiate

Don't let this be an Issue of race. Demand a fair resolution.

News item from: Land Rights Queensland, Dec '97, FAIRA Aboriginal Corporation, 37 Balaclava St., 4102

Readers without access to the Internet are invited to contact the New South Wales Aboriginal Land Council to obtain copies of the letter and a list of addresses.
33 Argyle Street,
Parramatta 2150
or phone (02) 9689 4444 or fax (02) 9687 1234.

Other web sites you may find of interest:

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission

Action for Aboriginal Rights

Australians for Native Title (ANT)

Australians for Native Title and Reconciliation (ANTaR)

Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation

Foundation for Aboriginal & Islander Research Action (FAIRA)

Human Rights and Equal Opportunities Commission